The history of WBAY

From the very start until today
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 4:43 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - For many in today’s WBAY family, this station is a part of their earliest memories. There is a tremendous amount of pride felt by the people that walk through the door every day. WBAY has always been the most popular TV station in Northeast Wisconsin. A legacy taken very seriously by everyone working there.

“I grew up watching Channel 2 and WBAY and now to be here as part of the team, I mean I’m incredibly honored, we have such a strong tradition, amazing journalism and passionate people,” said Tammy Elliott.

Bill Jartz picks up on that.

“The station I grew up with, I mean there was no doubt about it, grew up as a kid, the noon show was must see TV, we grew up on a farm and you shut up during the noon show because that’s when the farm markets were on, and it was just the station and I still think it’s that way,” he reminisced.

And it’s all thanks to the station’s pioneers - both those on-air and behind the scenes.

“Len Ihlenfeldt, who was a guy that worked with the Packers and worked here, Rex Marx, Chuck Ramsay, Les Sturmer was a guy, Bobby Nelson - if I had five dollars for every time somebody said, how’s Bobby Nelson before he passed away, I’d be a rich, rich man,” Bill Jartz remembered.

As the first station on the air in Northeast Wisconsin, WBAY’s history is unmatched

“When you say you work for WBAY people are like oh, legacy station, I’ve always watched that, I grew up watching that and now I’m getting to the age where people are saying to me, I remember watching you when I was younger and now they have families of their own, so it’s coming full circle,” Cami Rapson stated.

Like many of its predecessors, WBAY has become a second home for many of the employees. A family-like feeling on the air, and off.

“What you see on television, we are real, and behind the scenes all of us together, people who work in production and sales and marketing, photographers, we’re all together,” found Tammy Elliott.

“People who were here 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, I mean I came up with a lot of you guys, you were at my wedding, and that’s just crazy to me to see people and you have families and now your kids are off on their own, it’s kind of cool because we keep people, which is part of our legacy,” Cami Rapson added.

A legacy now spanning seven decades.

And while a lot of the technology and the tools to gather the news have changed, other things have not.

“A much faster pace, but I think we still have that tradition, we still have those values and that has stayed original, to its core we are who we are and this tradition has carried on at WBAY,” said Tammy Elliott.

“I’ve always felt, and from my perspective, I’m just trying to carry on a tradition of those people before me, the Chuck Ramsays, the Les Sturmers, Joe Schmits, guys like that, Bobby Nelson, that kind of blazed the trail for us to be where we are, we’re the second TV station in the state of Wisconsin, and we kind of set the standard, people learned how to do television, how to watch television through us and we continue on that tradition, we continue that legacy, my job is just don’t blow it, simple as that,” said Bill Jartz.